First Impressions – ADVENTURE TIME: THE FLIP SIDE #1

AdventureTime-theFlipSide-no-01-cover

Unfortunately I’m unable to format the text on WordPress to account for the backwards logo. Nevertheless, new miniseries starring Jake The Dog, Finn The Human, and BMO The Weird Sapient Game Console Robot. ADVENTURE TIME: THE FLIP SIDE #1 sends the heroes of Ooo on a quest from the back side of the Quest Board. Can they complete – or uncomplete – their assignment? Will doing so treat Finn’s quest withdrawal? And what effects can backwards adventures have on our heroes?

When it became clear that Adventure Time transitioned well into the medium of comics – so well that I personally couldn’t get a copy of the first issue for roughly a month or so – Boom studios (and its Kaboom imprint) did the only logical thing: spin off miniseries! Tons of them! Also annuals and seasonal specials, but mostly miniseries. Like clockwork, new six issue miniseries have come out almost as soon as the main series’ first issue sold out. Marceline & The Scream Queens, Fiona & Cake, Candy Capers, and some others I probably forgot.

Now we can add ADVENTURE TIME: THE FLIP SIDE to the list.

ADVENTURE TIME: THE FLIP SIDE #1 starts with Finn the Human, adventure-loving protagonist, suffering from a severe, debilitating Quest Deficiency. The only treatment: get questing, and stat! So Finn, his best friend Jake, and their walking, talking game console robot BMO head out in search of stuff to do. They find precious little of real value. Not even the Quest Board, a bulletin board for adventurers, can help them, as too many other adventurers hog all the good quests.

Maybe this is why the Land of Ooo is filled with shiftless, entitled citizens. The world’s economy is supported by quest addicted rough types who do all the work, including the minor errands.

But then Finn and Co. locate the back of the board, which has but one unmolested quest: save Princess Painting from the Monkey Wizard. Thus they set out on this big quest…and proceed to spend almost the entire rest of the issue getting to where the plot progresses. More on that later. Anyway, the ultimate resolution of this issue is the revelation that the Painting Princess hasn’t been kidnapped yet. That because the quest was on the reverse side of the Questing Board, they need to see to it that the Princess is kidnapped by the Monkey Wizard. If not, Ooo is doomed for some reason that’s probably silly. It’s Adventure Time, so I’ll run with it.

What I have a harder time running with is the pacing of the comic. I was not joking about how the plot is dumped in at the last minute. ADVENTURE TIME: THE FLIP SIDE #1 is heavily padded. Granted the padding is entertaining, but it’s still padding. There’s like six or more pages of the three dealing with a couple goblin looking dudes because they claim Finn et al need licenses to go on adventures. They go through the process to get them. And then they move on like nothing happened. These stops were mildly funny at times, but it’s disconcerting. If the pacing through this miniseries is well-represented in issue one, then the actual plot could theoretically be condensed into a three part tale, rather than a six part tale.

Writing for the trade indeed. At least the padding is funny.

Why is this a problem if the filler entertains? Because when it takes so long to establish the conflict, I have a hard time understanding what this series is going for. In all the previous miniseries, just looking at them tells one all one need know about them. Marceline & The Scream Queens was about Marceline and her band going on tour. Candy Capers was about Peppermint Butler assembling minor characters to solve crimes. Fiona & Cake was about Finn and Jake’s distaff counterparts. I don’t know what THE FLIP SIDE is going for, because so much page time seemed extraneous. Going into the book I thought it would be about going to some mirror universe or something where characters’ roles were reversed. Maybe that’s still what’s going on here, but I’m just stumped as it is.

The writing, by Paul Tobin and Colleen Coover, is a mixed bag. Some of the jokes are funny, some less so; some are consistent with the show’s offbeat humor, while others just left me confused. The plot was a decent set up, with it tended to start and stop between bouts of characters getting into Ooo’s typical nonsense situations. Gimmicky characters are the bread and butter of Adventure Time, and this issue doesn’t disappoint. License goblins, giant loofahs, and a kingdom whose royalty is people with ever shifting paintings for heads. But I get the distinct feeling that this miniseries having two writers might have influenced the disconnect between plot and filler. Though I can in no way confirm that.

This disconnect is perhaps forgivable given that most Adventure Time stories are excuse plots to facilitate awesome fighting and anarchic humor. At least when the deep, emotional character studies are happening.

Art duties are handled by Wook Jin Clark, whose work here is pretty solid. We’ve seen this artist doing backup stories in the main book before, and they serve the visuals well here. It’s a lot of thicker black lines and unconventional facial expressions that nonetheless look like the characters. Page layouts are varied but are still formatted to clear boxes. I’ve never been the best at describing art and how different artists handle style, so all I can say is the work is good.

ADVENTURE TIME: THE FLIP SIDE #1 comes off as a very mixed bag. Then central conceit of the story is difficult to describe and not very high concept. The actual plot that drives it makes up only part of the book, the rest made up of padding that could be just as easily removed and leave the plot unaffected. I presume it will read better in the trade, so I can’t really recommend it in individual issue format. My biggest complaint comes down to THE FLIP SIDE seeming like a three issue tale stretched to double the length. At a monthly schedule, it will take six months for the story to end. I know if I was a kid, I’d grow bored waiting for such a sparse story to finish.

Advertisements
This entry was posted in Columns, First Impressions and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Tell Us What You Think

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s